In these uncertain times everyone tries to introduce some lifestyle changes, to improve own immunity and resistance against some pathogens. We must remember though that strengthening of immune system is a process and requires combination of many factors to be effective. There are some products and tricks that we can use to improve our immunological capacity. In this publication we try to recommend few solutions and debunk some myths.
- Starvation diet is not recommended: It’s crucial to know that especially when infection risk is increased. We probably spend more time at home right now and some of us snacks more than usual. To avoid weight gain people often decide for starvation diet which is not the best idea right now. Immune system and specifically one of its elements- macrophages need glucose for efficient functioning, and fasting temporarily turns off metabolism based on it. Of course it doesn’t mean that we should eat a lot of refined and added sugars right now, but it would be reasonable to secure intake of healthy carbohydrates with low Glycaemic index.
- Physical activity can stimulate but also decrease your immune function depending on its type. Very heavy workouts (like CrossFit) also HIIT can adversely affect the function of the immune system, especially in untrained individuals. Moderate activity on the other hand have beneficial effect. It’s crucial to desist training when first symptoms of infection occur. Excessive exploitation of organism may induce progression of infection and even development of dangerous complications.
- Products rich in vitamin C: Activated immune system requires higher intake of vitamin C that’s why we should increase amount of vitamin C- rich products in our diet. To top sources of mentioned vitamin we can include: rosehips and black currant. Significant amount contain also: parsley leaves and paprika.
- Omega 3 fatty acids: Omega 3 FA have very significant impact on the function of immune system which has been studied since 80’ od XX century. They have not only positive impact on macrophages but also have additional anti-inflammatory properties. Main sources of Omega 3 fatty acids are: fatty fishes, fish- liver oil, Krill oil, cold pressed linseed oil, avocado oil, also walnuts and flaxseed.
- Fibre: Proper intake of fibre is not only important to prevent colon diseases and constipation but also indirectly boosts our immunity. Most of fibre fractions is classified as prebiotic which help us to nourish immunomodulating bacteria in our intestine. To fibre-rich products we can include: sauerkraut, green, leafy vegetables, legumes, brans, whole grain cereal, inulin and some fruits (apples, berries). Fibre-rich products have also other benefits such as decreasing LDL cholesterol and stimulating satiety.
- Fermented diary has no ability to stimulate our immunes system. Unfortunately bacteria present in yoghurt, kefir and buttermilk are not strong enough to work as probiotic. Time plays here very important role. The highest activity of bacteria we can observe within 24 hours from activation. Meanwhile, time between the production of fermented dairy products and consumption by the consumer, can be up to several weeks. In addition, we should take a closer look at the bacterial strains used in this process. Typical strains used in food industry are not specific to the human microbiome, so their presence is indifferent.